Authorities are searching for a person of interest after a female subject reportedly drove to the Dunkirk Police Department and claimed she had what she believed to be a methamphetamine laboratory in her vehicle.
According to the Southern Tier Regional Drug Task Force, around 5:45 p.m. on Tuesday, the unidentified female arrived at the police department on East Fourth Street after locating the meth materials at a residence on Straight Road in the town of Sheridan.
"The female apparently had found it up on Straight Road behind a relative's home, I guess in a trailer, in the Sheridan ... area," Police Chief David Ortolano explained Wednesday afternoon. "She removed it, loaded it into her car for whatever reason, and she drove it here to our police station, then she called our police desk and advised them that she was on our parking ramp and she had a meth lab or parts of a meth lab. That's how we ended up in the middle of it."
OBSERVER Photo by Greg Fox
This Chevy Avalanche parked outside Dunkirk City Hall Tuesday evening allegedly contained materials used in the production of methamphetamine. Police say a woman found the materials at a family residence on Straight Road in Sheridan and drove them to the Dunkirk Police Department. The investigation is ongoing and a person of interest is being sought. Pictured second from right is Julius Leone Jr., director of the Chautauqua County Office of Emergency Services.
The STRDTF is comprised of officers from the city of Dunkirk, as well as police in the sheriff's office, which may be why the woman drove to Dunkirk to report the meth lab and hand it over to the proper authorities.
Because materials used in making meth can become unstable, various first responders showed up to the area once the report came in and cordoned off the immediate area, particularly around the vehicle parked on Lynx Street adjacent to the police department.
Ortolano reported he believed the vehicle was a Chevy Avalanche. The area was blocked off for about two hours.
As a result of the initial response, STRDTF officers and the Chautauqua County HazMat Team recovered several items of evidence consistent with the production of meth.
"There were some compounds and other things and, from what I was told by the hazmat team, those are the compounds that are comparable to what they believed is used for a meth lab," Ortolano said.
The cordoned-off area on Lynx Street, as well as the woman and the vehicle, were decontaminated by the hazmat team and the Dunkirk Fire Department. The female subject was able to give the information that the items had been previously located on Straight Road. Based on this information, STRDTF officials, sheriff's deputies, the hazmat team and the Sheridan Fire Department responded to the suspected residence.
At the Straight Road residence, a second person was allegedly discovered suffering from exposure to the production of meth.
"The first subject was transported to Brooks Hospital for treatment, while the other person, I believe, was (decontaminated and) taken from the residence on Straight Road to the hospital, as well," Ortolano reported.
Investigators at the residence found what was alleged to be several more items associated with meth production.
The investigation is continuing and further information will be provided as it becomes available, according to a news release. Names of those involved, including the person of interest, have not been released yet.
The STRDTF encourages members of the community, when they observe narcotics-related activity in their area, to call either the task force at 800-344-8702 or Dunkirk Police at 363-0313 for the confidential tip line or 366-2266 for the dispatch desk.
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